The “Fixer” compliments of The League of Conservation Voters

November 20, 2015 – YouTube video from Funny or Die

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New study says typical Evansville air is bad enough to trigger serious heart attacks

November 16, 2015 – by Daphne Chen in the Deseret NewsEditor’s note: For those who follow such mundane things as air pollution data, it is clear that the many days in Evansville and surrounding environs, reach levels referred to in this new study. Unfortunately, government officials at every level, local, state and national dismiss poor air quality in the region as just  cost of doing business. air pollution alert

If you have heart disease, yellow may not be your friend.

Patients with heart disease have an increased risk of having a serious heart attack even during moderate air quality days, according to findings released last week by Intermountain Heart Institute.

Kent Meredith, a cardiologist with Intermountain Medical Center in Murray and one of the researchers on the study, said the risk begins when the level of fine particulate matter — what scientists call PM2.5 — reaches 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

That falls in the range of a yellow air quality day — what the Utah Department of Environmental Quality labels “moderate” air quality.

“Patients who have known heart disease are going to be more vulnerable on those days when you see the air pollution spike,” Meredith said. “Those are days when they probably ought to adjust their activities.”FIne particle comparison

The study involved analyzing two decades of data from more than 16,000 Intermountain Healthcare heart patients along the Wasatch Front, cross-referencing it with 20 years of local air quality data.

“It’s a very complete, very big study in terms of the number of patients, which allows us to look for even small effects,” Meredith said.

Researchers found that for every 10 micrograms per cubic meter increase in PM2.5 levels, a patient’s risk for serious heart attack rose by 15 percent.

The study suggests that people with coronary artery disease should limit their outdoor exposure on many yellow days and all orange and red days. Continue reading

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Breaking News: Valley Watch, colleagues, win Vectren appeal

October 29, 2015 – by the Indiana Law Blog. Editor’s note: We would almost certainly expect that Vectren will appeal this decision for either a rehearing before the same Court of Appeals or seek review by the Indiana Supreme Court.

BIRD W: ADDRESSIn Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Inc., Sierra Club, Inc., and Valley Watch, Inc. v. Southern Indiana Gas and Electric Co. d/b/a Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana, Inc., Ind. Utility Regulatory , a 34-page opinion, Judge Bradford writes:

On January 17, 2014, Appellee-Petitioner Southern Indiana Gas and Electric Company d/b/a Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana (“Vectren”), a public utility company which provides electricity to southern Indiana residents, filed a petition with Appellee the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (“the Commission” or “IURC”) for approval of projects to modify their current coal-powered generating stations so as to meet new EPA standards. The petition also requested financial incentives and reimbursement from ratepayers for costs associated with the projects. Appellants-Intervenors Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Inc., (“CAC”) Sierra Club, Inc., and Valley Watch, Inc. (collectively “Appellants”) intervened in the action and, in addition to the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor1 (“OUCC”), opposed Vectren’s petition. Appellants argued that retiring some or all of Vectren’s current coal-powered generators and replacing them with new natural gas-powered generators was a more cost-effective plan than Vectren’s proposal to install emission controls on its current generators. Ultimately, the OUCC ceased its opposition to Vectren’s proposal prior to the Commission’s decision.The Commission found that Vectren’s proposal was reasonable and necessary, approved the proposal, and granted Vectren’s request for reimbursement of project costs. On appeal, Appellants argue that the Commission failed to make necessary findings on (1) facts material to its determination of the issues and (2) statutory factors required to be addressed prior to authorizing the use of clean coal technology. In response, Vectren claims that Appellants’ appeal is moot and that the Commission made all necessary findings. We find that the Commission erred in failing to make findings on the factors listed in Indiana Code section 8-1-8.7-3 and, accordingly, we remand with instructions. * * *

We find that (1) the Appellants’ claims are not moot, (2) the Commission did not err in failing to consider the necessity of Culley unit 2 or the reasonableness of Vectren’s delay in filing its petition, and (3) regarding the soda ash and hydrated lime injection systems, the Commission erred by failing to make findings on the statutory factors listed in Indiana Code section 8-1-8.7-3 and by failing to grant or deny Vectren’s request for a CPCN thereunder. Accordingly, we remand the case to the Commission with instructions that the Commission make the required findings under Chapter 8.7.

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Modern living could endanger health, food and ecosystems

October 18, 2015 – by Judy Siegel-Itzkovich in the Jerusalem Post

Downtown 4x6 1

City lights, bright enough to light up the sky may have negative impacts on our health and our ecosystems. © 2008 BlairPhotoEVV

Living under constant and stable temperatures throughout the year due to air conditioning, heating and artificial lighting at night is liable to harm our health, food security and ecological systems, according to a international study by 63 researchers from 24 universities, including Tel Aviv University. The study was published in the British journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Professor Noga Kronfeld- Schor, a behavioral neuroscientist who heads the zoology department of TAU ’s life sciences faculty, said that these artificial environmental conditions create an “unending summer”.

Kronfeld-Schor explained, “The pace of life on our planet is [naturally] affected by seasonal changes. Plants and animals exhibit annual cycles in physiology, health, morphology, behavior and demography.

Our survey points to the fact that humans are not any different, and that we show significant annual rhythms in demography, health and well-being.”

She added that we usually do not pay attention to these seasonal changes because they are very slow.

“We feel our internal clock when we’re in jet lag, for example, but we pay less attention to the seasonal ticking – partly because we live in an artificial environment of ‘constant summers’ with steady temperatures and available lighting. But studies on other species prove that even after many years under set and artificial conditions, animals continue to ‘obey’ their seasonal clock, and statistical analyses show that humans are no different. We express different genes and are ill according to seasons – and are even violent and go to war according to seasons in the year.”

While the artificial environment does not cancel the season clock of humans, Kronfeld-Schor said: “We still don’t know how this environment affects our biological clock. We have a growing number of studies that point to animals losing their synchronization.

For example, migratory birds leaving one country are supposed to reach their target country on an exact date when there are enough hatching caterpillars to serve as a source of food.

The caterpillars time their hatching according to temperatures in the environment, but because of global warming, they do so before the birds arrive, so the birds die of hunger.”

The new article stresses the importance of better understanding of seasonal biology, especially based on disruptions caused by climate changes, the modern way of life and additional effects.

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KU, LG&E “officially” retire the antiquated Green River Station

October 8, 2015 – News Release from LG&E and KU in the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

It began powering customers across the Commonwealth before some areas even had electric service. Now after 65 years of providing safe, reliable energy, the turning of generating units at Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company’s Green River Station has ground to a halt. The company officially retired the plant’s final two units just before midnight, September 30.


The antiquated Green River Station is now officially retired. Compared to other plants, like TVA’s Paradise Plant nearby, it was a small facility but a big polluter, nevertheless. File Photo © 2015 BlairPhotoEVV

Hailed by Kentucky officials as “the greatest industrial innovation of the century,” Green River was put into service in 1950 to help meet post-World War II energy demands. Strategically located in western Kentucky, the plant played a key role in supporting the region’s dramatic economic growth by taking advantage of abundant, low-cost coal supplies in the area and serving as a critical energy hub that interconnected and supplied power to Kentucky Utilities’ entire system. At the peak of its operations, the plant’s four generating units combined to produce more than 250 megawatts of power.

“This plant might be a small one by today’s standards, but it’s also been a mighty one,” said Green River Station General Manager Tom Troost. “It’s met the challenge of increased demand and endured flooding, ice storms and more than six decades of service in an industry that is constantly evolving.” Continue reading

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Duke gets “sweetheart deal” from North Carolina Governor, an ex-employee of Duke Energy

October 4, 2015- by the Editorial Board of The Charlotte News and Observer

A massive coal ash problem exists at the Duke Energy Gibson Station in SW Indiana that goes largely ignored by Indiana environmental officials. Already, the drinking water for the little community of East Mt. Carmel, IN is so contaminated with selenium and other substances that it is unsafe for human consumption. Indiana seems to simply look the other way at this and the other numerous power plant ash issues across the state. © 2010 BlairPhotoEVV.

A massive coal ash problem (Foreground) exists at the Duke Energy Gibson Station in SW Indiana that goes largely ignored by Indiana environmental officials. Already, the drinking water for the little community of East Mt. Carmel, IN is so contaminated with selenium and other substances that it is unsafe for human consumption. Indiana seems to simply look the other way at this and the other numerous power plant ash and waste issues across the state. © 2010 BlairPhotoEVV.

Well, one has to admire the legal tactics if not the outcome. Duke Energy, after years of coal ash violations, made a deal with the state last week to make a $7 million payment, $500,000 for each of 14 coal ash pit and pond sites to settle the matter. In February, fears of a breach became a reality when a Duke coal ash pit in Western North Carolina spewed 39,000 tons of toxic waste into the Dan River. 

Criminal investigations ensued. Gov. Pat McCrory, a former long-time Duke employee when he was mayor of Charlotte, the company’s headquarters, vowed a righteous response. 

Indeed, state environmental regulators levied a $25.1 million fine against Duke. But that all went away Tuesday when the state and the company settled for that $7 million. Duke called it a payment and didn’t even seem to concede it was a fine. Dupe-Energy-Logo-trans

Frank Holleman, a lawyer for the Southern Environmental Law Center, rightly called it a sweetheart deal for Duke. “There’s a $7 million fine,” Holleman said, “but Duke gets amnesty at every single site in the state. Where is any new requirement on Duke to do something it wasn’t already required to do?” 

Duke is paying millions for cleanup and wrestling with what to do about remaining coal ash pits, which contain heavy metals that are an environmental hazard. Duke says tainted groundwater near the sites contains “trace elements” of the metals.

The state in this case appears to have fallen victim either to a botched investigation or to the high-dollar legal team Duke threw at the problem. 

In legal filings, the company claimed that Donald van der Vaart, secretary of the newly renamed state Department of Environmental Quality, told his staff to figure a big fine for Duke so that McCrory wouldn’t look bad as a former Duke employee. For its part, DEQ said Duke had been delaying action for years. 

But there seems little doubt that the country’s largest electric utility certainly bested the state in this case. Going from $25 million to $7 million doesn’t seem the shrewdest negotiating on the state’s part. And the coal ash problem is an ongoing threat.

A spokesperson for DEQ tried, unsuccessfully, to put a good face on the situation: “We both see value in putting this case behind us so that we can turn our full attention to the coal ash cleanup and basin closure process.” It’s likely some of Duke’s “full attention” was directed toward a victory party somewhere in Charlotte.

This tepid response to reprehensible threats of environmental problems related to coal ash only underscores the attitude of the governor and GOP legislative leaders that business should be left alone with regards to regulation, and if something happens to the environment, well, that’s just the chance you have to take.

Read more here:
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Breaking News: Duke rate hike from Edwardsport plant remanded

Dupe-Energy-Logo-dirtySeptember 23, 2015 – by Dave Stafford in the Indiana Lawyer. Editor’s Note: Valley Watch has been fighting this plant since its inception in 2004. In fact, we were instrumental. along with now deceased, Al Harding, in persuading Vectren to drop their proposed 20% investment in this fiasco. Finally after all these years our dedicated efforts are paying off for Duke ratepayers, at least some.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission must weigh for the third time rate increases for Duke Energy consumers connected to delays in opening the Edwardsport coal gasification plant in Knox County.

The Indiana Court of Appeals sent the matter back to the IURC in a suit brought by intervening interest groups, Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Inc., Save the Valley, Inc., Sierra Club, Inc., and Valley Watch, Inc. v. Duke Energy Indiana, Inc., Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, 93A02-1503-EX-184. The appeals court held the commission erred by not reopening the record after a prior remand and relied on evidence not in the record in determining the reasonableness of rate increases. The panel affirmed IURC rulings that a three-month delay in the plant’s commissioning was not caused by unreasonable actions by Duke, and therefore the cost could be calculated to ratepayers. The panel also affirmed the commission’s determination that the plant was partially in service for federal tax purposes before the in-service operational date in the settlement agreement.

“Based on our review of the record, there was ample evidence regarding the three-month delay and its impact upon Duke’s petition for cost recovery, and there was no need for additional evidence on remand to address that issue,” wrote Senior Judge Betty Barteau. “By contrast, there are insufficient findings as to the value of the rate increases caused by Duke’s declaration that the plant was partially in-service for tax purposes, and whether the increases were reasonable.

“Furthermore, the Intervenors did not have an opportunity to seek discovery on the rate increases, due to Duke’s late clarification of the issue. In addition, the Commission on remand considered additional evidence in the form of orders from ECR 19 and ECR 20, although those orders were not part of the record in IGCC-9 and the Commission did not follow the procedure for taking administrative notice of prior orders. The Commission’s consideration of these orders sharply contradicts its determination that it did not need to reopen the record on remand to receive additional evidence,” Barteau wrote.

“Under these circumstances, on remand the Commission should reopen the record, receive additional evidence … and issue findings of fact on these issues:  (1) quantifying the impact upon Duke’s proposed rate increases in this case resulting from Duke’s declaration that the plant was partially in-service for tax purposes; and (2) determining whether the proposed increases were reasonable per Indiana Code section 8-1-8.8-12(d).”

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Algae bloom grows, not impacting lower Ohio River, yet. Advisory area stretches from W. Va. Line to Cannelton Locks and Dam.

September 23, 2015 – by the Kentucky Division of Water. Editor’s note: Valley Watch contacted Orsanco’s Environmental Specialist, Greg Youngstrom 9/23 to discuss the situation as it currently stands. We found that the farthest downriver the algae has bloomed is about thirty miles downriver from Louisville, approaching Leavenworth, IN. We will try to monitor the situation as and if it moves further downstream.

Photo by: Bill DeReamer, courtesy WLKY Ch. 32

Photo by: Bill DeReamer, courtesy WLKY Ch. 32

The Kentucky Division of Water (KDOW) and the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) are re-issuing a harmful algal bloom (HAB) recreational advisory for the Ohio River and tributaries, extending the advisory downstream from the West Virginia state line to the Cannelton Locks and Dam located at Cannelton, in Hancock County, Kentucky.

KDOW and Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) personnel observed favorable water conditions for HAB development and made visual confirmation of HABs in the McAlpine pool at Louisville, Carrollton and Madison, Indiana. In addition, KDOW staff observed HABs in the Cannelton pool at West Point. Preliminary analysis indicates that microcystin toxins are occurring in these pools above advisory thresholds, which warrants the advisory to be extended downstream.

Water swallowed during recreational activities in this body of water may increase the risk of gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Skin, eye and throat irritation and/or breathing difficulties may also occur after contact.

On Aug. 31, KDOW received a report of an algal bloom on the Ohio River near Greenup. Subsequent sampling of the river indicated higher levels of microcystin toxins existed in some areas of the Ohio River from Ashland to the Meldahl Dam. KDOW issued a recreational advisory on Sept. 4 from the West Virginia line to Meldahl Dam. Since that time, conditions favorable for the development of HABs have persisted throughout the river basin, and additional HABs have formed further downstream.

On Sept. 11 the advisory was extended to the Markland Dam when data from the Markland pool indicated HABs were occurring throughout the pool. Observations of a significant bloom near Carrollton and Madison were made by ORSANCO staff on Sept. 16. On Sept. 17, KDOW staff observed blooms at Cox Park and Harrods Creek in Louisville and at Prospect. KDOW personnel also observed a significant bloom near West Point on Sept. 17. These observations and preliminary analysis indicate the need to extend the Ohio River and tributaries recreational advisory beyond the Markland Dam to the Cannelton Dam. This advisory includes the McAlpine pool which includes the area near Louisville. Samples have been collected and are being analyzed to confirm the presence of microcystin toxins.

This is a recreation advisory only.

There have been no detected microcystin toxins reported in the finished, treated water from public water systems which draw from the river. Precautions are being taken to monitor river water at public water supply intakes. The drinking water plants which draw from the river are optimizing their treatment to address the bacteria in the raw water, including using activated carbon and other treatment methods. KDOW will continue to sample and monitor the public water systems’ raw water and finished, treated water during the harmful algal bloom.

Harmful algal blooms arise when there are excess nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), sunny conditions, warm temperatures and low-flow or low-water conditions. KDOW anticipates that these conditions will persist in the Ohio River until flow in the river increases significantly and water temperatures decrease. At present, forecasts do not indicate significant changes in temperature and precipitation patterns over the next several weeks.

Blue-green algae occur naturally in the environment and are a vital part of the ecosystem. The more typical green algae, which do not produce toxins, come in many forms and may appear as underwater moss or stringy mats. Blue-green algae, on the other hand, appear as slicks of opaque, bright-green paint, but closer inspection often reveals the grainy, sawdust-like appearance of individual colonies or bacteria.

The color of the algae may also appear red or brown.

The following guidelines are recommended to avoid exposure to HABs:

  •   Individuals should avoid direct contact with affected water that has unusual color or where blue-green bacteria have been identified, including swimming, wading, paddling, diving and water skiing.
  •   People who are prone to respiratory allergies or asthma should avoid areas with HABs. Children may be particularly sensitive.
  •   If contact has been made with water containing blue-green algae, wash off with fresh water. In some cases, skin irritation will appear after prolonged exposure. If symptoms persist, consult your health care provider.
  •   If fishing in affected waters, fish fillets (not organs) may be consumed after the fillets have been rinsed in clean, non-lake water.
  •   Prevent pets and livestock from coming into contact with water where HAB is apparent. If you are concerned that you have symptoms that are a result of exposure to HABs please see your doctor and call your local health department.For additional information about this advisory, contact Andrea Keatley at the Kentucky Division of Water at (502) 564-3410 or Justin T. Carey, Division of Public Health Protection and Safety, Department for Public Health, at (502) 564-7398.
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Love Song to the Earth

September 8, 2015 – Various Artists

Published on Sep 4, 2015
Offical Love Song To The Earth Lyric Video directed by Jerry Cope and Casey Culver produced by Jerry Cope & Toby Gad, Nature Cinematography by Louie Schwartzberg
Featuring Vocal Performances by Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Fergie, Colbie Caillat, Natasha Bedingfield, Sean Paul, Leona Lewis, Johnny Rzeznik, Krewella, Angelique Kidjo, Nicole Scherzinger, Kelsea Ballerini, Christina Grimmmie, Victoria Justice, Q’orianka Kilcher

Every time the song is purchased, streamed, or shared, the royalties go directly towards the efforts of Friends of the Earth to keep fossil fuels in the ground and lower carbon emissions, and to the work of the U.N. Foundation to inspire international action on climate change.

Now we need you to lend your voice to the Earth and help catapult the Love Song into a global hit. Because it’s our world.

For more information

Full lyrics

This is an open letter
From you and me together
Tomorrow’s in our hands now Find the words that matter
Say them out loud
And make it better somehow Looking down from up on the moon
It’s a tiny blue marble
Who’d have thought the ground we stand on
Could be so fragile

Chorus (1st)
This is a lovesong to the Earth
You’re no ordinary world
A diamond in the universe
Heaven’s poetry to us
Keep it safe, keep it safe, keep it safe
cause it’s our world It’s not about possessions, money, or religion
How many years we might live ?
When the only real question that matters is still
A matter of perspective
Looking down from up on the moon
You’re a tiny blue marble
Who’d have thought the ground we stand on
Could be so fragile

Chorus ( 2nd)
This is a lovesong to the Earth
You’re no ordinary world
A diamond in the universe
Heaven’s poetry to us
Keep it safe, keep it safe, keep it safe
cause it’s our world Continue reading

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Dirty Air Campaign Opposing Safe Air for Americans Founded on Falsehoods

August 29, 2015 – by John Walke at the Natural Resource Defense Council

Cloud O3Lobbyists for polluting industry and their political allies are increasingly resorting to misrepresentation and fear mongering to oppose national health standards that deliver on the law’s guarantee of safe air for all Americans. I follow yesterday’s post by continuing to examine the series of recurring falsehoods that comprise this dirty air campaign.

Misrepresenting Industry Compliance Costs. The dirty air campaign’s leading complaint is that the compliance costs to reduce industry’s own air pollution is excessive. These complaints invariably lead back to a single, discredited report bought by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Independent economists have rightly characterized this report as “insane” and “unmoored from any economic reality.”

One central reason for that insanity is the NAM report assumes future smog compliance costs 1,000 times higher than actual cleanup costs today: $500,000 to reduce a single ton of nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution in NAM’s made-up world, versus $500 today to reduce one ton of NOx from power plants, for example. The report imagines these insanely exaggerated costs by choosing to draw an analogy to a short-lived 2009 economic stimulus program called Cash for Clunkers that was designed to assist Detroit automakers during the recession–not serve as a cost-effective smog control program. In fact no one ever treated the stimulus program as a smog program.

Nonetheless, the NAM report resorts to assuming these hyper-inflated costs based on a cartoonish world where states and municipalities would turn to “Cash for Clunkers” as their preferred control strategy, in order to reduce smog-forming air pollution rationally and cost-effectively. Indeed, the NAM report compounds this insanity by assuming that an economic stimulus program for vehicle turn-ins will set the future control costs for all smog-polluting activities across the U.S. economy, not just for vehicles but for industrial facilities and consumer products and any other regulated combustion activity.

Back in the real world, proven ozone control technologies and measures in use today will be the very first ones deployed by jurisdictions newly declared to be out of compliance with a safer standard. These measures are cost-effective and any rational regulator or regulated entity is going to take advantage of them. NAM’s cost claims don’t pass the red face test.

Misrepresenting Impact of Safer Air Standards. A second favored falsehood from the dirty air campaign is to pretend that the air quality in the nation’s national parks is “pristine” today. Industry then argues that safer smog health standards must be irrational if even some national parks won’t meet the safer standard. Continue reading

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How Obama’s Clean Power Plan actually works — a step-by-step guide

August 5, 2015 – by Brad Plumer at VOX

The End of the Earth

It’s easy enough to describe the basics of the Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s sweeping new policy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from America’s power plants. Heck, we can do it in a single paragraph.

The EPA is giving each state an individual goal for cutting power plant emissions. States can then decide for themselves how to get there. They can switch from coal to natural gas, expand renewables or nuclear, boost energy efficiency, enact carbon pricing … it’s up to them. States just have to submit their plans by 2016-2018, start cutting by 2022 at the latest, and then keep cutting through 2030. Oh, and if states refuse to submit a plan, the EPA will impose its own federal plan, which could involve some sort of cap-and-trade program. Done.

When the dust settles, EPA expects US power plant emissions will be 32 percent lower in 2030 than they were in 2005. A significant cut, though still just a tiny piece of what’s needed to halt global warming.

So then why does the rule need to be 1,560 pages long? Because that synopsis above still leaves tons of questions unanswered. How did the EPA actually come up with each state’s emissions target? Why does every state have a different target? What, exactly, can states do to cut emissions? What if they want to work together? If states refuse, what sort of federal plan gets handed down from on high?

The Clean Power Plan does not include industrial boilers like this one at Alcoa in Warrick County, IN. Those were dealt with in a previous rule making. © 2010 BlairPhotoEVV

The Clean Power Plan does not include industrial boilers like this one at Alcoa in Warrick County, IN. Those were dealt with in a previous rule making. © 2010 BlairPhotoEVV

This fine print will matter a lot. So, for those curious about how the rule actually works, here’s a more detailed step-by-step guide to what EPA is doing:

1) The EPA is setting individual emissions goals for 47 states

This is a key starting point. There isn’t a single nationwide policy here. Instead, the EPA is setting different targets for 47 states — that is, 47 separate state goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 2030.

Why just 47 states? Vermont and Washington, DC, are exempt because they don’t have any large fossil fuel or electric power plants, so there’s nothing to cut. Meanwhile, Alaska and Hawaii aren’t covered under the rule for now because the EPA is still mulling how to deal with their unique grid situations. The agency says they’ll get regulated eventually.

2) State emissions goals are set by a complicated formula

So how did the EPA actually set each state’s target? This part is a tad more complex, and it’s completely different from how the agency calculated state goals in last year’s draft proposal of the Clean Power Plan. I’ll walk through the broad steps involved:

— First, take stock of the nation’s fossil-fuel power plants. The EPA started by tallying up all the coal, oil, and natural gas power plants across the United States, placed them into two broad categories, and then figured out their average emission rates in 2012 in each of the country’s three main electric-grid regions.


Go to original 



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EPA Releases Clean Power Plan

August 3, 2015 – President Obama and USEPA. Editor’s note: Due to a surgical recovery period, Valley Watch is allowing EPA and the President to speak for themselves about the Clean Power Plan. It should be noted that already, Indiana Governor, Mike Pence has announced his intention to ignore this important rule and proposes to continue the state’s reliance on old dirty coal plants instead.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 9.47.21 AM

For more information go to:

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IDEM Commissioner, Tom Easterly, the ultimate friend of polluters announces his retirement

July 17, 2015 – by John Blair, editor

Good Riddance, Tom EasterlyEasterly

Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Tom Easterly announced his retirement on July 16. He will leave the office August 28. 

Easterly became known as a central global warming denier in the last few years as he shared his vision of using a State environmental agency as an economic development tool. He was also known for a pile of hazardous waste he authorized next to Lake Michigan as a consultant for ArcelorMittal Steel Corp prior to being appointed by Mitch Daniels in early 2005 to the Commissioner’s post.

It Doesn't Even MatterAs soon as he was appointed Commissioner, Easterly met with Indiana legislators to tell them the direction of the agency had changed from primarily environmental protection to an economic development agency, according to legislators he met with.

A bit later Easterly decided that enforcement of environmental rules was not important in Indiana and shut down the Agency’s Enforcement and Compliance section. From that point on, nearly every enforcement action against Indiana polluters was initiated by the USEPA and not IDEM.

In his latter years, Easterly became know for his adamant opposition to any effort to curb climate change and warming, offering advice to power plants and others on what they might do to avoid compliance with EPA rules. His current boss, Mike Pence, listened closely and adopted Easterly’s narrow views as his own, announcing recently that Indiana would not comply with the Federal Clean Power Plan.

Rejoicing at Easterly’s departure from the agency he managed is probably premature, however since it is almost a certainty that pence will appoint someone to the post wh shares his view of lax or no enforcement. Stay tuned.


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State ignores horrendous statewide air pollution event on Independence Day

July8, 2015 – by John Blair, editor.

Update: Further research has shown that the Beacon Street monitor in Ft. Wayne had a 24 hour average on Sunday, July 5 of a huge 84.75 µg/m3 with a high of 405.53 µg/m3. Editor’s Note: How can a state agency whose purpose is the protection of health for Hoosiers so blithely disregard these phenomenal levels of pollution? It almost defies reason and logic.

air pollution alert
July 4th is a day set aside for celebration, a national holiday in the midst of summer, a time for reflection on our freedoms. It is also a time when fireworks light up the evening sky both as community celebrations and, in fireworks crazy Indiana, a time for every man, woman and child to have their very own displays in their own backyards.

Yes, it is also a time when kids get their fingers blown off and this year one stupid man decided to set off a mortar shell from a perch on top of his head and blew up his head when the shell was launched. But explosive safety aside, fireworks also present a conundrum when it comes to environmental health.

This year that conundrum got pretty out of hand in Indiana. Monitors across the state (few as they are in number) recorded high to extremely high levels of fine particles from the evening of July 3 to the end of July 5.

It Doesn't Even MatterIt is the job of the Indiana Department of Environment Management to issue air pollution “alerts” when levels of so called criteria pollutants reach levels that are considered “unhealthy” for both “sensitive” populations as well as the public at large. But this year, IDEM and most local agencies that are suppose to protect citizen health completely dropped the ball and ignored the extremely high levels of fine particles that permeated Hoosier air for nearly three days.

Keith Bauges, head of IDEM's Office of Air Quality is not only a Global Warming "denier" but feels that alerts should be issued only after the fact.

Keith Bauges, head of IDEM’s Office of Air Quality is not only a Global Warming “denier” but feels that alerts should be issued only after the fact.

US EPA, after dealing with politics and a hostile congress set the level of pollution that is considered unsafe at 35µg/m3 as a 24 hour average. That was a “compromise” standard set by the administration of George W. Bush although it is clear science that levels lower than that can impact human health especially for people who suffer from a wide array of respiratory disease.

In other words, when the level reaches 35µg/m3 air quality is not good and breathing it could be harmful to some people’s health. As it goes higher, more people are impacted in an linear progression.

This past weekend, levels recorded at one monitor on the west side of Indianapolis called the “West 18th Street Monitor” fine particles rose to a whopping 280 µg/m3 at 1 AM on July 5 and remained high throughout the day and evening averaging 75.15µg/m3, twice the 24 hour standard. A day before, on July 4, fine particles averaged 44.35µg/m3 also well above the standard, topping out at 256.47 µg/m3. Continue reading

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In Perspective: EPA responds to the Supreme Court’s Mercury and Air Toxics Rule Decision

EPAJune 30, 2015 – by Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Air and Radiation, USEPA. Editor’s note: Ms. McCabe was a member of Valley Watch prior to accepting her position with USEPA but after her stint as IDEM’s Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Air Quality.

UnknownThe Supreme Court’s decision on EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) was disappointing to everyone working to protect public health by reducing emissions of mercury and other toxic air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants.  But as we take stock of what this decision means, there are some important factors that make me confident we are still on track to reduce this dangerous pollution and better protect America’s children, families and communities.

Most notably – the Administration remains committed to finalizing the Clean Power Plan this summer and yesterday’s ruling will have no bearing on the effort to reduce carbon pollution from the largest sources of emissions.

Second – this decision is very narrow.  It did not invalidate the rule, which remains in effect today.  In fact, the majority of power plants are already in compliance or well on their way to compliance.  The Court found that EPA should have considered costs at an earlier step in the rulemaking process than it did.  The court did not question EPA’s authority to control toxic air pollution from power plants provided it considers cost in that step.  It also did not question our conclusions on human health that supported the agency’s finding that regulation is needed.  And its narrow ruling does not disturb the remainder of the D.C. Circuit decision which unanimously upheld all other aspects of the MATS rule and rejected numerous challenges to the standards themselves.

Third – this decision does not affect other Clean Air Act programs that address other sources and types of air pollution. It hinged on a very specific section of the Act that applies exclusively to the regulation of air toxics from power plants.  This is important to understand because it means that rules and programs that reduce other types of pollutants under other sections of the Clean Air Act—like ozone and fine particles (smog and soot) can continue without interruption or delay.

The decision does not affect the Clean Power Plan, which EPA will be finalizing later this summer and which will chart the course for this country to reduce harmful carbon from its fleet of existing power plants.   That’s worth repeating: The Court’s conclusion that EPA must consider cost when determining whether it is “appropriate” to regulate toxic air emissions from utilities under section 112 of the Act will not impact the development of the Clean Power Plan under section 111.  Cost is among the factors the Agency has long explicitly considered in setting standards under section 111 of the Act.

Fourth – America’s power sector is getting cleaner year after year by investing in more modern technologies.   Since President Obama took office, wind energy has tripled and solar has grown ten-fold. The Clean Power Plan will build on these current positive trends.  That means cleaner air in communities across the country, as well as a boost to our economy as we build the clean energy system of the future.

Finally – What’s next for MATS?   From the moment we learned of this decision, we were committed to ensuring that standards remain in place to protect the public from toxic emissions from coal and oil-fired electric utilities.  We will continue to work to make that happen.  There are questions that will need to be answered over the next several weeks and months as we review the decision and determine the appropriate next steps once that review is complete.  But as I’ve already noted, MATS is still in place and many plants have already installed controls and technologies to reduce their mercury emissions.

After nearly 45 years of the implementing the Clean Air Act, there have been many more victories than defeats as we’ve worked together to clean the air and raise healthier children and families.  Despite the Supreme Court’s MATS decision, the agency remains confident that the progress we’ve made so far in improving air quality and protecting public health will continue.

Editor’s Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone’s rights or obligations. 

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